The following set of documents wас published in the book “Военнопленные в СССР 1939-1956” [‘Prisoners of War in the USSR 1939-1956’], a joint venture of the Volgograd State Institute’s Scientific Research Institute of Problems of the Economic History of the 20th Century, the Russian Federal Archive Service, the Russian Federation State Archive, and the Storage Center for Historical and Documentary Collections.
The documents include a Top Secret proposal to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [rendered here in the transliterated Russian as ‘TsK KPSS’] on the release and repatriation of a number of prisoners of war still serving terms in the Soviet Union. The release of two groups in particular, German POWs (including a number of former Nazi general officers) and Japanese POWs, would be used as tools to strengthen emerging diplomatic relations between the USSR and West Germany, and the USSR and Japan. The German POWs would be a joint repatriation, some heading to East Germany, some heading to West Germany, depending on their residency. In terms of the Japanese POWs, only those found guilty of crimes during World War Two would be considered for release; a number of Japanese were still being held in the Soviet Union as a result of the findings of the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, in which a number of Japanese were found guilty of preparing for biological warfare against the Soviets.
This collection also contains five appendices:
Appendix 1: A listing of the numbers of POWs and civilians from Eastern bloc countries (and Finland) to be released and returned, and those whose crimes were considered egregious enough to demand they be handed over to their home governments as war criminals.
Appendix 2: Draft note from Khrushchev to the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany with an initial arrangement to proceed with repatriation efforts.
Appendix 3: The draft Decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on plans to repatriate Japanese POWs and handover of the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial war criminals to the Japanese government.
Appendix 4: A listing of the numbers of POWs and civilians from capitalist countries that would be released and repatriated or, if their crimes were too heinous, would serve out their terms in the Soviet Union.
Appendix 5: A listing of the numbers of prisoners from certain countries who would continue to serve their terms in the Soviet Union, among these, the US, England, Brazil, Mexico, Luxembourg, and Syria.
INTERNAL MEMORANDUM OF THE MEMBERS OF THE JOINT
IN THE TsK KPSS ON THE ADVISABILITY OF RELEASING AND
ALL FOREIGN CITIZENS CONVICTED OF CRIMES COMMITTED
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR
4 July 1955
In keeping with the instruction of the Presidium of the TsK KPSS, dated 20 June 1955, we are introducing proposals on the question of convicted foreign citizens located in the USSR. These proposals proceed from the premise that it is advisable release and repatriate all foreign citizens located in the USSR that were convicted of committing crimes during World War Two; also to also release all other convicted citizens whose further detention is not in the interest of the security of the USSR. In keeping with this, the following is proposed:
1. Repatriate all convicted citizens of the People’s Democracies [the Eastern bloc – Transl.] as well as Finland – the majority (1064 persons) to be released from further serving their sentence, with the remainder (696 persons), in light of the severity of the crimes committed in the USSR being recognized as not befitting release, to be handed over as criminals for the disposition of their countries’ governments. Of those convicted citizens of these countries, only 5 Finns are to be released, having been convicted of espionage and murder in the period after the war.
2. Negotiate with the TsK SYePG [Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany – Transl.] the approval of the issue of the advisability of repatriating to the GDR [German Democratic Republic – Transl.] all convicted German citizens located in the USSR, whereby it is proposed to release the majority thereof, with the rest, which committed grievous offenses in the USSR, to be handed over as war criminals to the authorities of the GDR and West Germany, as applicable.
In this case, we have in mind that the question relating to the release or handover as war criminals of convicted German citizens whose residence is in West Germany will be discussed during upcoming dialogues with Chancellor Adenauer, who will be told that the question of German citizens serving their sentence for crimes against the Soviet Union is being looked into by the appropriate Soviet authorities, and that we expect a favorable solution to this problem.
In accordance with the aforementioned proposals, all convicted German citizens located in the USSR are to be repatriated to the GDR or West Germany, including general officers formerly serving Hitler’s Army. Comrade Serov believes it will not be possible to release 11 of the prisoners (including two Generals) for operative considerations (listing attached). The Committee requests this question be given special consideration.
3. Accounting for the fact that, at present, dialogues are being held with the Japanese government on concluding a peace treaty between the USSR and Japan, we believe it is advisable to coordinate the release of convicted Japanese citizens located in the USSR by the time the peace treaty is signed. In addition, we feel it is advisable for those convicted Japanese citizens who have served or will soon have served their time, to continue to be released and repatriate through the Red Cross regardless of the progress of the negotiations with Japan. In keeping with this, at present 16 Japanese citizens should be released who have served their time. We propose that Comrade Malik be instructed to report this to the Japanese delegation and provide them with the lists of individuals to be repatriated.
In connection with the urgent solicitations from the Japanese, we also propose that Comrade Malik be instructed to report to the Japanese delegation that the question of the release of convicted Japanese citizens who have not yet served their full term is currently under consideration, conveying the assurance that the Supreme Soviet of the USSR will amnesty these individuals and permit them to return to Japan after the signing of the peace treaty. We also propose that lists of all Japanese citizens in the USSR be handed to the Japanese delegation in keeping with its request.
Because it will be necessary to somewhat amend the revision of the draft Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the release of convicted Japanese, approved by the 23 May decision of the TsK KPSS, a new revision of the aforementioned draft Decree is submitted for approval.
4. Release the majority of the citizens of capitalist countries serving their term in the USSR (189 individuals), and the rest (111 individuals) convicted in the post-war period for espionage and other grievous offenses against the USSR are to remain in the USSR to further serve out their term.
Draft resolution of the TsK KPSS is attached.
Request your review.
Number of citizens of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, MNR [Mongolian People’s Republic – Transl.], and Finland, to be handed over to their governments
|Country||Number to be released and repatriated||Number to be handed over as criminals|
Note: Other than the 24 Finns subject to release and repatriation, there are 5 Finns in the USSR that committed crimes in the post-war period who should remain to further serve their term in the USSR.
To the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
We believe it is time to address the issue of German prisoners of war and civilians serving sentences in the Soviet Union, with the understanding that it would foster a further strengthening of the friendly relations between our nations.
Meanwhile, we are taking into account that the issue of prisoners of war will doubtlessly come up during the talks with Adenauer on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany – Transl.]. Therefore, we had hoped to discuss this with you before the talks with Adenauer.
We feel that it would be best to hand over German prisoners of war and civilians, whose residence is in the GDR, serving their term in the USSR, to the GDR authorities, and those prisoners of war and civilians, whose residence is in West Germany, to the FRG authorities.
In this regard, we have outlined the following:
1. During the upcoming talks with Chancellor Adenauer on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and FRG, state that the issue of former prisoners of war serving terms for the crimes they committed against the Soviet people is being reviewed by the appropriate authorities and that a favorable solution to this issue is expected.
2. After the successful completion of the negotiations with the GFR government, we intend to fully discharge 5614 German citizens, of those 3708 prisoners of war, 1906 civilians, and 180 general officers who formerly served in Hitler’s Army, and repatriate them, depending on their residency, to the GDR or to West Germany.
3. We feel compelled that 3917 individuals (2728 prisoners of war and 1189 civilians), in light of the extreme seriousness of the crimes committed by them in the USSR, that they be handed over as war criminals to the GDR or West German authorities, depending on their residency.
4. As a final act, it is proposed that the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the release and repatriation to Germany of German prisoners of war and civilians serving terms in the USSR be published, and noting therein that the release is being handled in connection with the corresponding requests from the GDR and the government of the GFR.
With Communist greetings
The Secretary of the TsK KPSS
Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Amesty of Japanese Prisoners of War and Civilians Convicted in the Soviet Union
In conjunction with the signing of the peace treaty between the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics and Japan, and guided by principles of humanity, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of SSR decrees:
1. To release from their places of confinement all convicted Japanese prisoners of war and civilians, with the exception of those convicted in the 1949 Khabarovsk War Crime Trials for participating in preparations for biological warfare and the use of biological weapons.
2. To permit all Japanese prisoners of war and civilians released from their places of confinement to return to their home country.
3. For those convicted in the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial whom the appropriate Soviet bodies cannot see it clear to release from further serving out their sentence, to be handed over to the disposition of the Japanese government as war criminals.
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
Secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
Number of citizens of capitalist countries subject to release and repatriationor to remain to further serve their terms in the USSR
|Country||Number to be released and repatriated||Number to remain to further serve their terms in the USSR|
Number of citizens of capitalist countries subject to remain to serve out their terms in the USSR
USA – 3
England – 2
Brazil – 1
Luxembourg – 1
Mexico – 1
Syria – 2